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Tribute as Wales' Walker forced to retire aged just 25 after back op

 

By Andrew Baldock

Wales international wing Eli Walker has announced his retirement from rugby at the age of 25.

The prolific Ospreys try-scorer has been unable to make a complete recovery from back surgery early last year.

Walker made one Test match appearance, playing in a 2015 World Cup warm-up match against Ireland, with injury setbacks often stalling his progress.

He played 81 times for the Ospreys, scoring 23 tries, and helped them to the PRO12 title in 2012.

In a statement released by the Ospreys, Walker, who made his decision in consultation with specialists, said: "It is an extremely difficult thing to do, acknowledging and making the decision that you have to retire from the game.

"But it is absolutely the right thing for me to do.

"I've worked hard to try to get back to where I was pre-surgery, but unfortunately I recognise that I am not going to be able to do so.

"I'm thankful for the support I've had from my family and from the Ospreys during what has been a tough period for me personally.

"I am immensely proud of everything I've achieved on the rugby pitch, be that playing for Swansea, representing my home region, the Ospreys, or gaining my full Wales cap.

"There are so many fantastic memories that will live with me forever. I consider myself fortunate."

Walker, whose blistering pace underpinned his game, made his Ospreys debut as an 18-year-old. He was capped by Wales across all age-grades and was selected in several senior Wales squads.

Ospreys managing director Andrew Millward added: "It is a real shame for Eli, and for the Ospreys, that injury has cut short his career before even reaching what should be his prime.

"However, he should be proud of what he has done in the black shirt and how he has represented himself, his family and the region."

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